Five Reasons Why Dog Adoptions Fail

Dog shelters and rescues use the term “forever home” when looking for potential adoptees, but, sadly, many dogs end up coming back. No one who adopts a dog ever intends to bring it back to the shelter, but often families find themselves unable to make things work out with their new dog.

Generally, people return dogs for one of a few reasons. If you take a minute to read about these reasons and ensure that they aren’t a problem for you or your family, it’s much more likely that you’ll provide the “forever home” for which every shelter dog yearns.

Reason 1: Not everyone at the house really wants the dog

Far too often dogs end up in homes where they are not entirely welcome. Sometimes a husband or wife doesn’t want a dog but finally gives in and allows their spouse to have one. Sometimes a child wants a dog and, after she promises to take care of it, mom and dad relent.

No matter the reason, getting a dog when the whole household isn’t on board is a bad idea. Dogs that aren’t wanted by everyone in the house tend to become the center of arguments and a source of stress. Keeping a dog healthy and happy takes a lot of work and time, and a dog can sense when a member of its pack isn’t happy. In the end, a dog that isn’t 100% welcome in a home will feel uncomfortable and anxious.

Reason 2: The dog has behavior problems

When faced with the decision to adopt an older dog or a puppy, many people can’t resist the charm of the puppy. Puppies, however, are not low maintenance pets, and many people aren’t ready to handle all the mess and destruction that comes with an active puppy. Consider adopting an older dog that is already trained and proven trustworthy.

Of course, not all adult dogs are trained, and sometimes you’ll bring a dog home only to discover it has behavior problems you didn’t see in the shelter. If you are serious about being a “forever home” for your new dog, you’ll do some research or consult a professional trainer and help your dog learn how to behave properly.

If you simply don’t have the time, energy, or know-how to train a dog, consider adopting from group that fosters its dogs in regular homes. Foster parents get to know dogs intimately and can fill you in on all their quirks and special needs. Find a dog that has been fostered successfully in a home that is similar to yours and you’re much more likely to adopt a good fit.

Reason 3: The dog adoption was spur-of-the-moment

You should never adopt a dog on a whim. Adopting a dog is a serious decision that should take time to prepare for and execute. When you adopt a dog because of “love at first sight,” it’s very likely that you’ll regret your decision later.

Be realistic. Is a dog really a good fit for you and your family now? Is your home ready for a new dog? If you see a dog and really think she’s meant to be yours, ask the shelter or rescue to hold her for you for a few days. Talk to anyone else that will be living with the dog and make sure they are willing to adopt. You’ll cause yourself and the dog much less heartache if you prepare for the adoption and ensure that it is really a good idea.

Reason 4: A new baby is coming

Many couples get a dog in the early years of their marriage when they are young and have plenty of time. Often times, the dog becomes a sort of surrogate child. However, once human babies come along, some people think it’s time to get rid of Fido.

The truth is, dogs and kids can coexist happily and peacefully with fairly little effort on your part. Having a baby is a big responsibility, but so is having a dog. Don’t get a dog if you don’t plan on keeping it for its entire life. There is plenty of information about how to handle introducing your baby and your dog, so do a little research and enjoy watching your two “kids” meet each other.

If you simply can’t handle having a dog and a baby at the same time, don’t get a dog in the first place. You’ll only cause yourself and the dog pain when you have to separate once junior arrives.

Reason 5: The dog doesn’t get along with the other pets

You may adopt a dog thinking she will make a fantastic playmate for your other pets, but what is she doesn’t? Your dog may be perfectly happy to play with his canine friends at the dog park, but he may feel very differently once he’s on his own turf. Look for a dog rescue that will let your bring your dog along to meet potential adoption candidates or, even better, let the new dog come visit for a day or two.

Remember, adding another dog to the family can bring stress to everyone involved, so don’t give up if things go rough at first. Most dogs will learn to tolerate each other eventually, although the best situation is for multiple dogs to enjoy each other’s company. Make sure your existing dog really wants a friend and the new dog isn’t just there because you wanted him.


All About Pit Bulls

Pit bulls are wonderful animals that deserve a chance to have a good life like any other dog. However, it’s important to remember that pit bulls are not just any other dog – They are a little more of everything a dog can be.

Basic Breed Overview

Pit bulls have superior physical and mental characteristics that make them excellent partners for responsible, active, and caring owners. On the other hand, these same outstanding qualities can make them a little difficult to handle for people who don’t have a lot of experience with dog ownership, or for those who don’t understand the breed very well. Luckily, pit bulls are very responsive to training and eager to please. It is therefore strongly recommended to take them to obedience classes as soon as they are up to date with their shots. (Pit bulls are prone to parvovirus, so it is important that they receive all their vaccinations before coming into contact with other dogs or going places that other dogs frequent.) A well behaved and obedient pit bull will be a great ambassador for the breed and help fight prejudice and misconception.

Pit bulls are very adaptable and will even do well in urban living provided they have enough exercise or other positive outlets for their energy. Many pit bulls are easygoing couch-potatoes but can also be somewhat rambunctious until they mature. Maturity can come pretty late with this breed (2 to 3 years old in some cases). Pit bulls remain playful all their life and have a great sense of humor. Real clowns at heart, these dogs will make you laugh like no other.

Pit bulls are strong, energetic, agile, and powerful dogs. They are also very resourceful and driven. Determination is one of their most notable traits. Whatever they set out to do, they put their heart and soul into it…Whether it is escaping an inadequately fenced yard to go explore the neighborhood, destroying your new couch when left home alone, or climbing into your lap to shower you with kisses! They just don’t give up easily.

Stahlkuppe (1995) writes, “The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), or the AmStaff, is certainly not the right pet for everyone. Being a powerful dog, it will require sufficient and adequate control. Some prospective elderly owners or children, will not be able to supply that control… A first-time dog owner, in the minds of many experienced dog breeders, should not buy an APBT or an AmStaff! An insecure person who wants only an aggressive dog to bolster some personal human inadequacy should never become an owner of one of these dogs. An uncaring or negligent person should not buy an AmStaff or an APBT (or any other dog for that matter).”

Another very important characteristic of pit bull dogs is their amazing love of people. Many people are surprised by the loving personality of these dogs the first time they meet one. Pit bull dogs are indeed remarkably affectionate and truly enjoy human attention. They are wonderful cuddlers, and nothing beats a belly rub. In fact, most pit bulls think they are lap dogs!

Dunbar (1999) writes: “Today, a properly bred pit bull is so exuberantly happy upon meeting her owner’s friends (or even friendly strangers) that new owners sometimes worry that their dog is too sweet and fun-loving to protect their home and family… A multi-talented companion, the well-trained pit bull is suited for a variety of exciting activities. He excels at obedience, agility and weight-pulling competitions, events which showcase intelligence, trainability and strength. In addition, the pit bull’s pleasant nature makes him an ideal candidate for therapy work with people.”

Human aggression, severe shyness, and instability are not traits typically found and accepted in the APBT breed. Dogs with these traits are not good representatives of the breed and should not be placed into adoptive homes.

Like any other breed, pit bulls can develop behavior problems if poorly bred, mishandled, abused, unsocialized, etc., that could result in inappropriate aggression. Any large, strong, and powerful dog that attacks can do a lot of damage. This is why temperament evaluation is important when dealing with dogs of certain size and potential.

Unlike the myth propagated by the media however, human aggression is NOT a problem specific to pit bulls. In fact, pit bulls tend to do better than average in temperament tests.

The American Temperament Test Society provides temperament testing around the country for dog breeds, and gives a passing score for the entire breed based on the percentage of passed over failed within total number of the particular breed tested. As of December 2003, the American Pit Bull Terrier has a current passing rate of 83.9%, and the American Staffordshire Terrier passes at 83.2%. In comparison, The Golden Retriever passing rate is 83.2%.

Pit bull type dogs are wonderful, loving, and very loyal companions. It is important however, to understand the breed’s nature, to provide a structured environment, and to establish a positive leadership role. In order to do so, pit bull owners must understand the original purpose of the breed, and respect its limits and potential.
The Breed’s Original Purpose

Humans have created specialized dogs through emphasizing desired traits and eliminating unwanted ones. It is no different with the pit bull type dogs. The American Pit Bull Terrier has been “selectively” bred for hundreds of years to fight other dogs. This is the sad “work” these dogs were created for. In the same way that Labradors were bred to retrieve birds, APBTs were bred to face other dogs in mortal combat. Even in dogs that are not recently bred from fighting lines, the urge to fight can arise at any time. Not to strongly emphasize this fact would be negligent.

That said, we can’t blame specialized breeds for behaving as they were bred to. Specific traits were bred into the dogs and are now part of the breed’s character. It’s like the digging instinct of many Terriers, the herding behavior in Shelties, the compulsion to run in Greyhounds, etc. Your Pointer may have never spent a day on a real hunt, but he may still point and flush birds as his ancestors did.

It’s a mistake to think that the fighting gene can be trained or loved out of a dog, or that early socialization will guarantee your pit bull will always get along with other animals. There are precautions to take when owning pit bulls, especially in a multiple-dog environment. Unfortunately these precautions are often viewed as acceptance for the sport of pit-fighting when nothing could be further from the truth. Knowing how to avoid a fight, as well as how to break it up if, despite all efforts one strikes, is proof of smart and responsible pit bull ownership.
Never trust a pit bull not to fight…

It is not a hate of other dogs that causes pit bulls to fight, but rather an “urge” to do so that has been bred into the dogs for many generations. Pit bulls may fight over hierarchic status, but external stimulus or excitement can also trigger a fight. Remember that any canine can fight, but pit bulls were bred specifically for their drive, intensity, and determination to win.

Pit bull owners must be aware of the remarkable fighting abilities these dogs posses and always keep in mind that pit bulls have the potential to inflict serious injury to other animals. A pit bull may not even be the one starting a conflict, but he has the genetics to finish it. Remember that pit bulls are almost always blamed no matter who initiated the hostilities, and often end up paying the price…as does the owner!

That said, some pit bulls get along great with other pets and may live happily with other dogs without incident. We just can’t assume that this is true for all of them, or take for granted that pit bulls getting along with other pets today will do so tomorrow. Pit bull owners must have common sense and make sure they don’t set their dogs up for failure by putting them in inappropriate situations.

Every negative incident involving a pit bull adds to their reputation and jeopardizes our right to own these great dogs. Keep your pit bull out of trouble!

Please remember that animal-aggression and people-aggression are two distinct traits and should never be confused. Unless they have been very poorly bred and/or specifically “trained” to attack humans (often by undesirable individuals through abusive methods), pit bulls are, by nature, very good with people. They are, in fact, one of the most loving, loyal, friendly and dedicated companions one can have.

WC4P hopes this article will help people understand why so many of us are deeply dedicated to these wonderful dogs. Pit bull dogs need more help, compassion and understating than many other breed, but they will pay you back with more love and loyalty than you ever thought possible.


Everything You Need to Know about Spaying or Neutering Your Dog

So you’ve finally brought home your new puppy and are ready to being your beautiful life together. Have you already made an appointment to have your new friend spayed or neutered? If not, do it today. Spaying or Neutering your dog is the best possible gift you can give it. Read on to learn the answers to all the basic questions surrounding spaying and neutering.

Q: What is Spaying and Neutering? Are they the same thing?

A: Spaying and neutering refer to the practice of surgically making your dog sterile or unable to produce puppies. The term “spay” refers to removing the uterus of female dogs, while “neuter” is used for the surgery performed on males. However, most people use the term “neuter” to refer to both procedures.

Q: Why should I neuter my dog?

A: All you have to do is look around your own neighborhood to realize how many surplus pets there are. Every year, thousands of dogs, cats, and other animals are killed because no one wants them. Every puppy your dog has takes away a home from an animal that is already at a shelter, and it is likely that 60% of your dog’s litter will end up being re-homed or placed in a shelter.

Neutering increases your dog’s health by decreasing risk for certain cancers and lowering the drive to be aggressive and roam. Neutered dogs are less likely to get in fights or be hit by cars while wandering the neighborhood.

Q: Does neutering hurt my dog?

A: Most veterinarians use only the most humane methods for neutering dogs. Your dog will have anesthesia and won’t remember the surgery at all. Both spaying and neutering are routine procedures that are very safe and have an easy recovery. Most dogs are back to normal within a day and completely healed in less than a month. If you are worried about the pain, ask your vet to prescribe some pain medication that is safe for dogs.

Q: How old does my dog have to be before getting neutered?

A: Thanks to advances in veterinary technology and training, dogs can now be neutered safely as early 8 weeks old. Young animals recover from surgery quickly and reap the maximum benefits of being neutered. Ask your vet what age she prefers your dog to be and stick to her suggestion, but remember that the cost of neutering is much less when your dog weighs less, so getting him neutered early will save you money.

Q: Will my dog behave different after being neutered?

A: Yes and no. Your dog will still be the same sweet pup you know and love, but he’ll be more inclined to better behavior and less aggression and roaming. Your dog won’t “miss” the mating hormones that have been eliminated through neutering. Instead, your dog will be the sweet, loving guy you always knew he was without many of the destructive or dangerous behaviors he may have exhibited before. Neutering isn’t a substitute for good training, but it will make your dog more inclined to listen to you.

Q: Will my dog get fat?

A: That depends on if you let him. If you feed your dog a reasonable amount of food and give him plenty of exercise, he’ll stay and lean and trim as he was before you had him neutered.

Q: How much does neutering cost?

A: The cost of spaying and neutering vary due to a wide array of variables. Generally, spaying is more expensive than neutering, and larger dogs will cost more than small ones. Many communities have low or no cost neutering programs. Contact your local humane society or ASPCA to find out if they have special neutering programs or know of an agency or vet that does. The cost of neutering should be factored into the price of owning a dog, so if you can’t afford to have your dog neutered, you can’t afford to have a dog.

Q: What if I really want to have puppies?

A: Then, by all means, adopt a puppy. Do yourself a favor and forget about breeding your dog. Backyard breeding, or breeding as a hobby, is responsible for more than half of the homeless pets in America. Don’t contribute to the pet overpopulation problem. There are plenty of reasons not to breed your dog. You can read more about it in the article “The Sad Truth About Backyard Breeding.”